Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Getting It

Thank God there are some people out there who get it.

USA Today had a great article about some of the people who are helping New Orleans and can't leave. I sure wish more people would see it that way. Hell, I wish my wife would see it that way.

Just the other day, while listening to New Orleans music in the car as we were running errands, something became much clearer to me.

I knew all the songs (St. James Infirmary and Bourbon Street Parade I remember for sure) and was excited to hear them. I felt sure that these songs were particularly famous and that she should know them, too, especially after being with me for the last five plus years. These are songs that I know by heart not because I am a music nut, but because I am from New Orleans. They are part of the fabric that makes up New Orleans' culture. And it's a fabric that continues to be woven.

My wife is not a bad person. But this is one of the things that eludes her. The music, food, rhythm of speech, pace of life are all part of me because I am from there. And when I don't get my regular fix, I start to freak out. It's a drug to me - the heat, the laid back attitude, the 24 hour party, my friends and family, the food, the music and all the other things that I am leaving out.

I can buy the music and make the food. I can come for a visit during JazzFest or Christmas. I can talk to my friends or see pictures of what they are doing. I can decorate my house with fleur de lis and art purchased from Dr. Bob. Having these experiences and objects helps me remember, but I just can't ever feel the way I feel when I am home. And that makes all the difference to me.

And here's where she misses me - she doesn't have any point of reference for this. This is how I grew up. It's just not the same as everywhere else. I sense that one could move from Minneapolis, MN to Madison, WI to Evanston, IL to Columbus, OH and not notice much difference. I could be wrong, but that's the feeling I get. New Orleans is not at all like the rest of the world.

I guess the dirtycoast.com guys have it figured out when they say, "Everywhere else...It's just Tuesday."

I think everywhere else is just not New Orleans.

UPDATE: Placide, a buddy of mine who lives in the Ukraine now, made me feel better. Read the comment.
UPDATE 2: I guess we do have the Pennsylvania Polka up here. If you don't know the song, watch Groundhog Day once and you will.


Mr. Clio said...

I spend three years in a certain Midwestern college town.

Everybody said, "It's a nice place to raise a family."

I almost committed suicide there.

Beware of "nice places to raise of family."

LatinTeacher said...

I hear ya, bra. The more I think about the little one that's coming the more I want him to dance and sing and catch beads and eat crawfish on Good Friday. And watch his dad march in the Buzzards and listen to music in the rain, in the heat, on the street. I do not, however, want him to build snowmen, slip on ice, and have to bundle up like the Michelin Man. This is another post, I guess. Like I said, I hear ya, bra.

Anonymous said...

Hi Steven,
I know exactly what you mean. I'm teaching English in Ukraine and trying to explain New Orleans to the culture here. They don't get it either and I rather expect that won't change. First, it's a fight to undo Hollywood mythology of America. Then I try to explain that New Orleans is even more different than this. Still, it makes me think about the good old days. I loved your blog. Keep up the good work.


Stephen's Wife said...

I have wonderful memories of making icecream out of snow, building snowmen, and sleding down a huge hill as a kid. Just a fyi...

Stop ripping on the wife. She thinks it is getting old. Plus, she is 7 1/2 months pregnant and it is just not plain nice. Speaking of nice... Do you ever write anything nice about the wife?